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Puzzle solving: an urgent question



 
 
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  #1  
Old February 18th 04, 07:02 AM
Samik
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Default Puzzle solving: an urgent question

I am an aspiring chess player (average club level), and I
had some question which I thought I would ask you, since
many of you are experts.

i) As we know, solving puzzles increases one's playing strength.
Now, is it advisable to solve puzzles WITHOUT a Chessboard (just
looking at the diagram at the book/computer), which is harder
but increases calculating power; or is it better to use a
board and move around the pieces, so as to simulate the
actual playing condition ?

ii) I have noticed that I am reasonably good at solving
puzzles, but I am not sure if I can spot the same positions
when they arise in actual games. Thats because in a puzzle
book they tell you "There is something in the position" (even
though modern puzzle books like Nunn's book are not 'go find
the Night fork' type, they at least tell you that there is
something in the position for W/B), whereas in actual games
nobody tells you so. So I often go for the safe and dull moves.
How do I rectify the situation ?

iii) Is it important how much time I take to solve the
puzzles ? Books like those by Nunn or Emms offer you points
for solving puzzles of varying difficulties, but they say
nothing about time.
And finally, a stupid question: How many puzzle should
one solve per day ?
Thank you all,
Samik
  #2  
Old February 18th 04, 09:22 AM
Derek Wildstar
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Default Puzzle solving: an urgent question


"Samik" wrote in message
om...

I am an aspiring chess player (average club level), and I
had some question which I thought I would ask you, since
many of you are experts.


I'll share my views with you, as a perpetual Master-In-Training (2100 USCF).

i) As we know, solving puzzles increases one's playing strength.


There's plenty of debate in that statement alone, can we say instead
"...increases one's puzzle-solving strength."

Now, is it advisable to solve puzzles WITHOUT a Chessboard (just
looking at the diagram at the book/computer), which is harder
but increases calculating power; or is it better to use a
board and move around the pieces, so as to simulate the
actual playing condition ?


Neither is required, if you have a board in front of you and you wish to set
up the pieces, do not let puzzle-solving protocol guide you either way. Each
has it's own mannerisms; with the board you can investigate variations in
depth, without the board you can find key moves as easily.


ii) I have noticed that I am reasonably good at solving
puzzles, but I am not sure if I can spot the same positions
when they arise in actual games. Thats because in a puzzle
book they tell you "There is something in the position" (even
though modern puzzle books like Nunn's book are not 'go find
the Night fork' type, they at least tell you that there is
something in the position for W/B), whereas in actual games
nobody tells you so. So I often go for the safe and dull moves.
How do I rectify the situation ?


This is a common question asked repeatedly, but with slightly different
wording each time. The only way to rectify the situaiton of 'not finding key
moves in over-the-board play' is to play more otb! With each game, you learn
more opening sequences and positional patterns and soon enough, based on
your ability to observe and remember, you see positions that you know aren't
quite right, either a non-book move, or a middle game that isn't following
the theme of an otherwise well played opening. When you see this happening
you get this little bit of inspiration that says, and I quote you, "There is
something in the position" Which you then look for, and look for, and look
for...


iii) Is it important how much time I take to solve the
puzzles ? Books like those by Nunn or Emms offer you points
for solving puzzles of varying difficulties, but they say
nothing about time.


No specific rule, but try to fit the entire puzzle within normal OTB limits.
If you can finish any puzzle in three minutes, you are pretty spectacular.

And finally, a stupid question: How many puzzle should
one solve per day ?


As many as you enjoy doing. Chess is a fun game, not homework.


Thank you all,
Samik


I'm sure other peeps have dissimilar ideas, and probably just as
interesting. Here's a book you might want to consider, you have the
temperment for it:

"Think Like a Grandmaster" Alexander Kotov



  #3  
Old February 18th 04, 11:21 AM
Claus-Jürgen Heigl
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Default Puzzle solving: an urgent question

Samik wrote:

i) As we know, solving puzzles increases one's playing strength.
Now, is it advisable to solve puzzles WITHOUT a Chessboard (just
looking at the diagram at the book/computer), which is harder
but increases calculating power; or is it better to use a
board and move around the pieces, so as to simulate the
actual playing condition ?


I think puzzle solving has two purposes: learn, recognize and practice
tactical and positional patterns and improve your calculating skills.
For these two skills it isn't important if you set up the position on
a real board. If it helps you and you have the time, do it. But try to
not move the pieces when you solve a puzzle. When you look up the
solution I'd say move the pieces because then you see better what's
happening on the board.

ii) I have noticed that I am reasonably good at solving
puzzles, but I am not sure if I can spot the same positions
when they arise in actual games. Thats because in a puzzle
book they tell you "There is something in the position" (even
though modern puzzle books like Nunn's book are not 'go find
the Night fork' type, they at least tell you that there is
something in the position for W/B), whereas in actual games
nobody tells you so. So I often go for the safe and dull moves.
How do I rectify the situation ?


This will become better if you solve puzzles because puzzle solving
helps you to recognize patterns in your games. To learn faster, use
puzzles grouped into themes, like back rank mates, forks, overworked
pieces and so on. Repetition is very important in learning. Books and
puzzle collections where puzzle themes are mixed are better suited to
test your skills.

Also analyse your games. With the time at your home and maybe a strong
chess engine at your side you will detect what was there. This helps
you a lot to know what you can do next time.

iii) Is it important how much time I take to solve the
puzzles ? Books like those by Nunn or Emms offer you points
for solving puzzles of varying difficulties, but they say
nothing about time.


You will get better with time. If you have an idea how it works, and
are in the mood, why not spend 10 minutes or more to work it out? Time
management in a game is a different skill and is not the purpose of
puzzle solving. But if you don't have a clue about a position, you are
better off searching for not too long. In a game it doesn't help you
searching for something what you don't have an idea about because
there might be nothing there actually. Better look up the solution,
learn why it works and re-solve the puzzle some time later.

And finally, a stupid question: How many puzzle should
one solve per day ?


Solve as many as you are comfortable with. Most people don't do chess
puzzles every day. I think it is more benefitting if you solve chess
puzzles for one hour at one day in the week than to solve puzzles
every day for 10 minutes. Your mileage may vary.

Claus-Juergen
  #4  
Old February 18th 04, 08:10 PM
Mogath3
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Posts: n/a
Default Puzzle solving: an urgent question

As we know, solving puzzles increases one's playing strength.
Now, is it advisable to solve puzzles WITHOUT a Chessboard (just
looking at the diagram at the book/computer), which is harder
but increases calculating power; or is it better to use a
board and move around the pieces, so as to simulate the
actual playing condition ?


I have said this before, use a board and pieces and set the each position up
only DO NOT move the pieces until you think you have found the solution. If
after a reasonable amount of time you haven't solved it, reveal one move of the
solution and see what effects that move has had on the position. This is the
way I have always done it and it works pretty good.
When I do positions, I always just look at it as either "white to move" or
black to move". There's nobody whispering in your ear, "It's black to move and
win" or "White wins with a fork" when you are at the board. What I've done is
printed out several hundred positions on "flashcards" and I do them from the
cards. I usually do ten at a time and then check the book for the answer.
I'd also say to play a lot of otb games, especially long games. If you play
online, thats fine, but use a board and pieces. It sharpens your eye to see
things otb. These things work for me and hopefully you may find them helpful as
well. Good luck.

Regards,
Jeff

  #5  
Old February 20th 04, 10:25 PM
Samik
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Posts: n/a
Default Puzzle solving: an urgent question

Everybody, thanks a lot for the advices.
Samik


oJuNk (Mogath3) wrote in message ...
As we know, solving puzzles increases one's playing strength.
Now, is it advisable to solve puzzles WITHOUT a Chessboard (just
looking at the diagram at the book/computer), which is harder
but increases calculating power; or is it better to use a
board and move around the pieces, so as to simulate the
actual playing condition ?


I have said this before, use a board and pieces and set the each position up
only DO NOT move the pieces until you think you have found the solution. If
after a reasonable amount of time you haven't solved it, reveal one move of the
solution and see what effects that move has had on the position. This is the
way I have always done it and it works pretty good.
When I do positions, I always just look at it as either "white to move" or
black to move". There's nobody whispering in your ear, "It's black to move and
win" or "White wins with a fork" when you are at the board. What I've done is
printed out several hundred positions on "flashcards" and I do them from the
cards. I usually do ten at a time and then check the book for the answer.
I'd also say to play a lot of otb games, especially long games. If you play
online, thats fine, but use a board and pieces. It sharpens your eye to see
things otb. These things work for me and hopefully you may find them helpful as
well. Good luck.

Regards,
Jeff

 




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